Police announce new Oktoberfest safety initiatives - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Police announce new Oktoberfest safety initiatives

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The La Crosse Police Department is gearing up for Oktoberfest 2012. On Wednesday morning, they announced new safety initiatives that will be used during this year's celebrations. They hope these new measures will help maintain a safe and fun environment for everyone.

Three of the most significant additions to the Oktoberfest security will be a weekend boat patrol, a 24 hour campus command post, and a bicycle patrol unit during the celebration.

Lieutenant Joseph Smith will be part of the La Crosse Police Department's Bicycle Patrol Unit during Oktoberfest. He said having a bike patrol brings a new skill set to the table.

"We can hear and see things that you wouldn't normally see in a squad car," said Lt. Smith. "When we're in neighborhoods we can hear crime happening. We can smell crime happening. We can see stuff. And we can sneak up on people and they don't even know that we're there. So there are a lot of advantages to it."

Bike patrols can also help police respond to incidents quickly.

"If we're on the north side of the parade route and we have a situation happen on the south side we can quickly move from the north side to the south side without interfering with the parade," said Lt. Smith. "The hard part about the parade is pedestrian traffic. We're unable to get through there with squad cars and it takes entirely too long on foot. So having a bicycle is going to be a big advantage for us."

The police have also been working with campus landlords and distributing door hangers with tips to have a safe fest and consequences for those who break the law. Their goal is to avoid large and damaging parties.

The La Crosse P.D. hopes these programs will make police more visible in the community and help officers respond quickly if needed. But even with the new initiatives in place, the Police Department said it will be a community effort to keep everyone safe and happy. And the number one thing you can do is drink responsibly.

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